The 2023 NFL regular season schedule was released on Tuesday, May 11. There is still the opportunity for flexing games later in the season, but for now, we know when each team will play during the regular season. While technically considered a primetime game, Thursday Night Football is stereotypically known for duds rather than must-watch games. With that in mind, let’s look at some of the best and worst matchups for TNF as the matchups stand on schedule release night.
Best of 2023 TNF
Detroit Lions at Kansas City Chiefs, Week 1
Starting off with the first Thursday Night Football matchup of the year. Sure, at first glance, this could look like it is going to be a wash, with the Chiefs getting out to a blowout win to begin the year. That very well could happen, but there isn’t a better barometer for the Lions to see if their team is bought into what Dan Campell is preaching than facing the defending Super Bowl champs.
New York Giants at San Francisco 49ers, Week 3
Did the Giants overpay Daniel Jones this season? Is Brock Purdy really the answer at quarterback for San Francisco? This is an early season matchup, and yet, each team’s performance in this game could answer their respective question. Jones and his new weapons are going to have their work cut out for them against the Niners' defense. Meanwhile, if Purdy is the starting quarterback early, a primetime loss could be all it takes to get Kyle Shanahan guessing about his starter going forward.
Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens, Week 11
The two front runners in the AFC North are once again expected to be the Bengals and the Ravens. This matchup hinges on the health of both Joe Burrow and Lamar Jackson, with the latter struggling to play the second half of the last two seasons. While each of these teams is a favorite in their respective division, they also are some of the overall top teams in the AFC. They will play twice this season, with this being the second matchup that could end up determining who wins the division.
Miami Dolphins at New York Jets, Week 13
Admittedly this game is actually on Black Friday, so isn’t technically a TNF game. Still, this will be the first time we hopefully get to see the Tua Tagovailoa-led Dolphins team take on the Jets and new quarterback Aaron Rodgers. These teams will matchup twice over the span of three weeks, so an important primetime win could give that team an edge in a tougher AFC East.
Worst of 2023 TNF
Chicago Bears at Washington Commanders, Week 5
I will admit that I am not the biggest Justin Fields fan and that I expect the Bears to still not be very good. Throw in that Sam Howell looks like the perfect quarterback to get the Commanders a great shot at drafting Caleb Williams at the top of the first round next year, and this matchup could be an early snoozefest for the Thursday slate.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Buffalo Bills, Week 8
The Bills should be in line for another strong season, especially if quarterback Josh Allen can keep his turnover numbers down. This matchup doesn’t look great because the Bucs don’t project to be the powerhouse they have been over the last four seasons. Tom Brady seems to be retired for good this time, leaving either Baker Mayfield or Kyle Trask to run the offense. They should still be somewhat competitive, but this matchup doesn’t bring excitement like it used to.
Carolina Panthers at Chicago Bears, Week 10
The Bears make the list for the second time, which is likely not a good thing. It is a bit of a homer opinion, but I think the Panthers are going to be decent this year. Still, if Bryce Young struggles and the offense can’t sustain drives like it struggled to last year, this game could be one to miss.
New Orleans Saints at Los Angeles Rams, Week 16
The Saints head into the season with the best odds to win the NFC South. That comes with the assumption that Derek Carr doesn’t take a step back on a new team and that New Orleans doesn’t lose running back Alvin Kamara for the majority of the season. If Carr struggles in his first season with his new team, this game could be a buzzkill with the aging Matthew Stafford unable to keep a competitive offense going for the second season in a row.